Have you ever witnessed a moment of pure love that you knew would stay in your heart forever? I encountered one a few years ago, and it still moves me to tears whenever I think about it.
I was on faculty for a Christian writer’s conference. The day of sessions had come to an end, and I was enjoying some free time sitting in the lobby of the hotel chatting and laughing with some author friends.
My chair faced the entrance to the lobby and I noticed a car pull up to the covered entry in front of the door. An elderly man got out and removed the luggage from the trunk and then he and his wife came into the hotel and walked down the hallway to their room.
A little later he returned by himself to the lobby. I noticed that his steps were slow and his shoulders were slumped as if he carried the weight of the world.
He went outside to park the car and then he walked back inside. He turned towards the hallway, hesitated, and then he swiveled back towards us, walking with halting steps. “Excuse me, ladies, but are you the kind who pray?”
We all responded, “Yes sir, we are.”
“I’m a pastor and I’ve come into town to preach at a church just down the road. You might have seen my wife as we came in. She has Alzheimer’s and this is probably the last time we’ll ever get to go away together. Would you mind to pray that we could have a good weekend?”
The sadness in his eyes broke my heart. All of us replied that we’d be happy to pray for them. One of my friends asked for their names.
I swallowed around the boulder in my throat and said, “Sir, we’ll be glad to pray with you right now.”
“I would like that, but I see my wife has left the room and I need to go to her.”
I looked down the hallway, and there she came, her steps shuffling and slow, her expression distant. We watched with tears on our cheeks as he walked down the hall to meet her.
When he came beside her, she turned and they walked down the hall side by side. I watched as he reached his hand out to her. She tucked hers into his, and they walked down the hall holding hands.
She might not have remembered who he was, but she felt the comfort of his touch and knew that he loved her. I don’t know that I’ve ever witnessed a moment that was any sweeter.
We were all so overcome with emotion that it took a few minutes before any of us could speak. Then we gathered together and prayed for this dear man and his sweetheart.
I went back to my room but I couldn’t get the scene out of my head. The next morning at the breakfast table, I told some other friends about what had happened and that I wanted to go during lunch to a nearby grocery store so I could buy flowers to send to them. People started handing me money saying that they wanted to be part of it.
Word spread and by lunchtime I had a pocket full of money and gifts of books written by my author friends. I added one of my books to the pile. I went to the store and purchased a huge floral arrangement, an assortment of fruit, snack foods, a box of candy, and a card. I signed the card with the simple message, “We are praying that you’ll have a weekend to remember.” I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed that shopping trip.
When I got back to the hotel, I stopped at the front desk and asked the clerk to have the items delivered to their room. We hadn’t signed our names on the card so I didn’t expect to hear any more from them, but that night when I returned to my room there was a message on my phone. He had seen my photo on the cover of my book, recognized that I was one of the women he’d spoken with the night before, and he called to express his thanks to all of us, sharing that they were having a great weekend together and that he’d been overwhelmed by our gifts.
What he didn’t realize was that he’d given all of us an even greater gift—a reminder to enjoy the moments with our spouses, to make some memories while we can.
When I returned home, I shared the story with my husband. And then I slipped my hand into the familiar comfort of his and said, “Baby, that’s what I want for the two of us. I want to walk the halls of life still holding hands with you.”
What about you? Today would be a great day to say “I love you” and to hold hands with your sweetheart . . . just because you can.